surfer riding the waves

What settings are best for shooting water sports?

If you are interested in shooting sports but are stuck for subjects that are accessible and produce great images then look no further than water sports.

Whether you live on the coast or inland chances are there is a water sport centre nearby that you can test out your ability and equipment. Remember to ask at the centre before shooting, check if they have competitions that you can take some shots at. Offering some of the photos to the club is a great way to guarantee you will be welcomed back!

Windsurfing, wake boarding, water-skiing, kite surfing, jet skiing, white water kayaking, surfing, sailing, power-boating. Whichever water sport you choose to shoot they all have one thing in common… water. Often capturing the water correctly is the key to getting great water sport action shots. Water sports are often shot with high shutter speeds freezing the water droplets into crystal like ice sculptures. Keep your shutter speed to 1/1000s and faster to freeze the water.

When shooting over water there tends to be lots of light as it is reflected back off the surface, this allows you to keep your shutter speed high whilst ISO low.

Look for positions where the competitor is making a turn or a jump. Both these actions shoot water droplets from the surface and inform the viewer about the direction, speed and nature of the movement, bringing the image to life.